The particular consultant said spas should only pay $20 per treatment (plus tip), minimum wage if the therapist doesn't have a booking. And if therapists don't like it, let them leave. I found the sentiment more disturbing than the actual numbers. It seems that so much money and attention has gone into building fabulous facilities, that we've forgotten that it's ultimately about what happens between the therapist and the client in the treatment room.
Massage school is more expensive than ever, jobs are hard to find, and it's getting harder to make a living even if you find a job. Most spas (especially day spas) don't pay benefits. Some spas charge therapists "back bar" fees -- the cost of the supplies -- which is another way to bring wages down. If there are no appointments (and lately that's all too common), they tell you not to come in -- no pay, of course! Many spas keep therapists shy of "full-time" so they don't have to give them benefits.
People who are considering going to massage school or esthetician school might want to rethink whether this is still a good way to make a living. And as consumers, we should start thinking about finding a great therapist who works for themselves (or at a spa that treats them well) and seeing them regularly. That way, we'll get their best work -- and they'll be decently paid.